General

5 small business ideas you can start for under $10,000

By Emily Lil

Special to the Financial Independence Hub

Have you ever dreamed of opening up your own small business but wondered where you’d find the capital to do so? It turns out that there are scores of businesses that require no more than US$10,000 to start. With such a low start-up investment, there is no excuse to wait before launching your dream business.

1.) A Cleaning Business

All you need to start your own residential cleaning business is a mop, a vacuum, and some bulk cleaning supplies. Develop a game plan and begin by cleaning residential spaces. When you’re ready, commercial clients tend to pay greater hourly rates. Cleaning services make up a billion-dollar industry. Advertise in your local newspaper or register your business with Amazon Services to help customers discover you more quickly. When business is booming, consider embracing the high-paying niches in the cleaning market, such as bio hazard cleaning and commercial janitorial services. While these jobs require more complex equipment, they could lead you to earn a six-figure salary.

2.) Gardener

If you’re an avid and successful home gardener with a wide knowledge of plants and an artistic eye, garden consulting may be the perfect start-up for you. Garden consultants are typically paid by the hour to work with home gardeners, answering questions, and guiding decisions. You may also be asked to develop a cohesive plan including what types of plants, soils, and rocks to incorporate into a garden. If you’re planning on becoming a full-time garden consultant, work on developing a portfolio, advertise in local directories, and develop meaningful contacts. You’d be surprised at how many people desire to skip traditional landscaping services for a more in-depth informative service like garden consulting.

3.) Freelance Writer

If you’re a skilled writer, you can start a home-based business with little to no start-up investment. Continue Reading…

Old Age Security (OAS) explained

Old Age Security (OAS) was originally intended to be a universal program to provide income support payments to Canadian seniors. It is one of the cornerstones of Canada’s retirement income system.

It is not a pension plan. You don’t make contributions. OAS is a government benefit program that is financed out of general revenue.

Related: Is our Old Age Security Program Sustainable?

Employment history is not a factor in determining eligibility. You can receive OAS benefits even if you have never worked, or are still working.

Residency requirements have to be met. The amount you receive is determined by how long you have lived in Canada after the age of 18.

Everyone who has been a resident of Canada for at least ten years (after age 18) is eligible to collect OAS starting at age sixty-five. Normally, you qualify for the full amount only if you have been a resident for at least forty years after turning 18.

You may still qualify for full or partial payments if you meet certain other requirements.

Up to September 2017, the maximum monthly benefit is $583.74. This rate is reviewed four times a year and may be adjusted based on the cost of living measured by the Consumer Price Index. OAS is taxable income.

OAS for low income seniors

Anyone who receives OAS and whose income falls below a certain level may be eligible to receive additional non-taxable monthly payments.

  • The Guaranteed Income Supplement provides a monthly benefit to low income OAS recipients. It is an income tested benefit. This means your total income from the previous year (combined income for couples) is used to determine your eligibility.
  • Allowance is available to 60-64-year-old spouses/common-law partners of OAS recipients who also receive GIS.
  • If you are sixty to sixty-four years old and are widowed, you may be eligible to receive the Allowance for the Survivor.

Continue Reading…

Ask Tyler: Should I sell my stocks, given the North Korea situation?

By Tyler Mordy, Forstrong Global

Special to the Financial Independence Hub

Diversifying Fire & Fury

What danger does the North Korea situation present for global investors? Clearly, Trump’s indulgence in nuclear brinksmanship carries risk. Pyongyang potentially firing missiles at US territory in the Western Pacific is also real. And there is a global existential threat should it ever escalate into intercontinental warfare.

Yet, rather than add to the volumes of prognostications about North Korea’s specific situation, consider the track record of major events and their impact on markets.

Most geopolitical events are false alarms

First, most geopolitical events are false alarms. As card-carrying members of the change-anticipation field, we understand the desire to divine the big events: to be first to spot the outlines of a looming disaster can be glorious (and career-enhancing).

But most warnings are false alarms simply because big turns are rare events. Remember Y2K, Saddam Hussein’s so-called “weapons of mass destruction” and, recently, Brexit? None of these widely-feared threats materialized or they delivered benign outcomes.

Second, more often than not, geopolitical events create opportunity. Rummaging through past post-crisis periods produces a long list of stellar returns after the initial event. For example, the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962 was a 13-day confrontation between the US and the Soviet Union, widely considered the closest the Cold War came to full-scale nuclear warfare.

However, after the crisis subsided, the Dow went on to gain more than 10% that year. Or take the Korean War, when the North invaded the South. This conflict lasted from June 1950 — July 1953. During that time, the Dow was up an annualized 13.6%. History is brimming with similar examples.

Such events often have binary outcomes

Finally, geopolitical events may have binary outcomes. By this we mean that a negative scenario would either produce an extremely large portfolio loss or gain. There is no knowing which ahead of time. As such, narrowly focusing on one type of risk is speculative at best.

Continue Reading…

Sharing mortgages with unequal incomes

By Alyssa Furtado, RateHub.ca  

Special to the Financial Independence Hub

When you decide to buy a home with another person, there’s a good chance there will be a difference in your incomes. Whether the difference is big or small, it raises questions about how expenses will be split up. Two people with unequal incomes getting a mortgage together is a very common occurrence: couples make up a vast majority of homebuyers. But you can also buy a home with a friend or family member.

If you’re planning on sharing a mortgage with someone else, here’s what you need to know to make it work.

How will the home be owned?

If you’re purchasing a home together, you need to discuss how the ownership will be structured. If you’re a married or common-law couple, you’ll probably opt for what lawyers call joint tenancy. Both parties share a 100% stake in the property and both are fully responsible for everything related to the home, including the mortgage, taxes, and maintenance. If one partner dies, the other becomes the sole owner of the home.

If you’re buying with a friend or family member, you might opt for what lawyers call tenancy in common. With this structure, each person owns a separate share in the property and is responsible for their share. If you’re planning on being tenants in common, and one of you earns a higher income, you’ll need to discuss how that affects each partner’s ownership stake in the home and who will be responsible for what payments.

Who pays for what, and why?

When making decisions about how to share expenses, couples in joint tenancy usually take on equal responsibility. Since both partners are 100% owners of the home, finances are joined and mortgage payments are made using a joint account. Household income is the only thing that matters in this situation. Couples have to work together to make decisions about their budget to ensure the mortgage, property tax, and maintenance costs are all paid.

For tenants in common, you can choose to split up ownership and expenses a few different ways:

Continue Reading…

Most Canadians aren’t researching financial products before purchase

By John Shmuel, LowestRates.ca

Special to the Financial Independence Hub

Canadians love using comparison websites when it comes to booking flights to exotic locales, but when it comes time to make big decisions on major financial products, they’re skipping out.

That’s what we found in our latest survey conducted in partnership with Ipsos. The survey found that 60% of Canadians use comparison websites when looking for a flight, and 63% use them when booking a hotel.

Then we started asking about whether they did the same for financial products. We expected to find a gap — but not by such a wide margin.

Less than half of Canadians are really researching their options when it comes to these products. Only 47% do “a lot of” research when they’re buying car insurance, while only 45% do a lot of research when they’re applying for a credit card.

Those numbers rose to 60% when it came to mortgages. Reassuring, right? Not really. It seems that when mortgages come up for renewal, Canadians are just taking the rates their broker or bank hands them. Only 42% did a lot of research into interest rates before renewing their mortgage. Continue Reading…